WOMEN’S SOCCER: Lady Tops drop two, fall to No. 5 seed

Jay Lively

The Lady Toppers entered the weekend hoping to land a No. 2 seed in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament that starts next week in Mobile, Ala.

After a pair of conference losses at home, they limped into this week with a No. 5 seed.

It has been an up-and-down season for the women’s soccer team, which began 3-0 in conference play but has lost its last four.

Western (9-7, 3-4 SBC) lost 2-1 in double overtime to Louisiana-Lafayette (6-7-3, 3-3-1) Friday after sophomore forward Allison Nellis tied the score with less than two minutes left in regulation.

And while Western came on strong late in the game, a sluggish overall performance against the Lady Cajuns left coach Jason Neidell questioning his team’s desire.

“I’m concerned about the mentality of our players right now,” Neidell said. “They’re not competitive enough.”

Neidell said his team has a case of Jekyll and Hyde.

“We hope the other team shows up Sunday,” Neidell said. “The other face of Lady Topper soccer.

“When they’re faced with adversity, they don’t deal well with it. A lot of that has to do with being young, but we need the maturation process to speed up, or we’re really going to struggle.”

The team Neidell was looking for showed up Sunday, bringing enthusiasm and tough play against South Alabama (8-8-3, 4-3-1), though it didn’t translate into a win.

The Lady Toppers lost 1-0, but felt better about their effort.

“The ball just didn’t bounce our way,” Nellis said. “We played harder today (than Friday), but we didn’t come out with the win.”

It was a disappointing weekend for Western’s only senior, forward Jenny Klingenberg, who played her last home game as a Lady Topper Sunday.

“We seem to play to the other team’s level,” Klingenberg said. “As soon as we see we’re not winning, we step it up, but it’s too late.”

While Western claimed seven of its 14 wins last year by one goal, they have lost four close games this year – the difference between last year’s 14-5 record and this season’s 9-7 mark.

“All the injuries we’ve had this year are coming back to haunt us,” Neidell said. “It’s been difficult to get over the hump in those close games and give that little extra push.”

With the Sun Belt regular season over, Western hopes for a fresh start going into the tournament. They’ll face No. 4 seed Louisiana-Lafayette in the first round.

“We told them that we’re starting a new season,” Neidell said. “We lost to (Lafayette) and that’s going to be a great motivator.”